Celebrate with WLP and the City as new donated trail easements have been signed! Also learn about updates regarding the WT specialty license plate program, read the latest trail report, and consider saving on your MT State taxes with a donation to the Whitefish Trail Endowment.
City formally adopts new trail easements!  


 
Three private landowners have generously donated trail easements to support a proposed future connection of the Whitefish Trail between the WT Big Mountain Trailhead and the Flathead National Forest in Hellroaring Basin. We would like to sincerely thank Elk Highlands Homeowners Association and Montana Land Reliance, Whitefish Mountain Resort, and Michael and Michelle Episcope for supporting this important public recreation connection across their private property. The donated trail easements will ensure 2+ miles of the Whitefish Trail with two small segments remaining to finalize the connection. Whitefish City Council voted unanimously on February 3rd to hold the donated easements for high quality, public recreation. 

 

In Montana, sections of public land are often 'land locked' by private land that prevent public access to recreation opportunities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, berry-picking, birding, etc. Luckily Montana's Recreational Use Statute protects landowners from liability when no monetary fees are exchanged. The Whitefish Trail, F. H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company's Open Lands Policy, and Montana's Block Management Hunting Program are prime examples of how this liability protection provides invaluable public benefit.

  

These new Whitefish Trail easements will also provide a critical connection to future community trails recently approved in the USFS's Taylor Hellroaring Project. Users will access the trail from a new trailhead at the Holbrook Overlook on Big Mountain Road. The new trail will provide expanding views of Whitefish Lake, Beaver Lakes, and the Swift Creek Valley (pictured above) on the way to a scenic footbridge across Hellroaring Creek. We are excited to develop yet another important recreation amenity on the Whitefish Trail. Two additional easements are necessary to finalize the connection, and pending successful fundraising and the Taylor Hellroaring Project's timber management, we hope to break ground as early as 2021. 

Save the WT Plate! We may lose the
Whitefish Trail Specialty License Plate UNLESS...

The State of Montana has set a new threshold of 400 plates for an organization to keep their specialty license plates. WLP and other participating organizations have three months to meet the new threshold, and WLP currently has 177 dedicated drivers with WT specialty plates. Unless 223 new WT plates are registered in the next three months, the Whitefish Trail license plate will likely be removed from the program. Help us reach 400 and keep our WT license plate out on the road. WLP receives $25 for every tag, so 400 tags would generate $10,000 every year! That's 25% of the Whitefish Trail annual maintenance budget. 


What if I currently have a WT License Plate?
Tell your friends and family to sign up to help us reach 400! If we do not reach 400 registrations, you can keep your tag until your next annual registration, OR if you have permanent tags, you can keep them for the life of the vehicle. Stay tuned. 

Losing the tags will have a huge impact as they have generated approximately $4,000 in consistent funding annually. We would like to thank everyone who has supported the program thus far. We love seeing the WT plates around town and at trailheads!  We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause you the next time you have to renew your vehicle's registration. The new regulations prevent organizations from re-applying for new specialty tags for 4 years. Send us photos of you and your tags! We'd love to see where they have helped us promote the Whitefish Trail locally, throughout Montana, and all across the US and Canada.


It literally takes a village to keep WLP and the Whitefish Trail thriving. Do your part today!


Be a WT Friend or Family this year and make an investment in the future of our local lands. 

Whitefish Trail Report - Mid-February
by Alan Myers-Davis, WLP Director of Development 

Old man winter continues to keep outdoor recreationists and local weather forecasters on their toes. February came in like a lion with wind storms, snow, ice, and even warm soaking rain. Thankfully, these intermittent storms were abbreviated by restorative periods of sunshine, blue skies, and better visibility. Sunshine these days is kind of like a powder day on the ski hill. Drop everything! And get outside while you can to soak up that healing vitamin D. 

Local trails took a big hit during recent wind storms. Over 6 trees came down at Lion Mountain alone! We'd like to offer a HUGE THANKS to Bill Love, our devoted chainsaw volunteer, for braving difficult, icy conditions to get these down trees cleared so quickly. Bill continues to clear other areas of the trail, but with winter access difficult to more distant trailheads, some trees will have to wait until spring. Beaver Lakes especially took a hard hit. The DNRC reported that ~400 trees blew down around Murray Lake alone. DNRC plans to salvage many of the trees. 

The valley snowpack has melted significantly in recent weeks revealing sections of dirt on those typical south facing slopes including Reservoir. These sections of bare ground become muddy in the afternoon, so take care not to damage the tread. 
 

Have you noticed the new trail maps at trailheads? Through a grant from the Montana Office of Tourism, we have updated the Whitefish Trail maps to include new trails and highlight our local conservation lands. See all that purple? That's all the conservation that has been secured since the community and WLP started working with partners under the WF Neighborhood Plan. Pat yourself on the back Whitefish! Over 6,000 acres of local lands are protected forever and have provided over $12 million in cash to support Montana Schools and Universities. In fact, the 2014 Beaver Lake Public Recreation Easement continues to generate $300,000  every year in perpetuity for Montana Universities. 

Smith Lake is next. We are working hard to secure permanent conservation and public access for these important community lands. The benefits of the Smith Lake Legacy project are powerful and well worth the investment. The $3 - 4M price tag will directly fund the State's Permanent Education Fund and generate $140,000 every year in perpetuity for MT Schools and Universities. Stay tuned for project updates and how you can be involved. 

WT Endowment - Leave your Legacy and save $$ on your MT income taxes!

Did you know? 
The Whitefish Trail Endowment  Fund is restricted to specifically support annual operating and maintenance costs for the Whitefish Trail. Established in 2011, the fund ensures that future generations will enjoy the same access and quality recreation we have today.

We need YOU!
Held and managed by the  Whitefish Community Foundation , the WT Endowment currently funds ~75% of annual WT operating and maintenance expenses. Help us grow the WT endowment to ensure the Whitefish Trail is maintained forever.

"We give to the WT Endowment because it ensures future families of the Flathead Valley will have free access to our Montana open lands. The Montana Tax Credit is just the cherry on top!"    
Anonymous 2019 Donor

How to Give?
Leave your legacy in the form of a charitable bequest through your will or living trust, OR make a planned gift to our qualified MT endowment  and pay less MT state income tax. Your donation will provide a MT tax credit of 40% the value of the gift, up to $10k credit per year per individual or $20k/year per couple.


Donate HERE or contact Alan Myers-Davis, WLP Director of Development, for more information.  406-862-3880 or alan@whitefishlegacy.org
Thank you to our Corporate Sponsors
The Whitefish Trail relies on the generosity of trail users, conservation-minded supporters, and local businesses to create a year-round, sustainable asset for future generations.  
 

 

HeartStone Advisors is a third-generation, locally-owned, and locally-operated wealth management firm based right here in Whitefish. The Matarazzo family has your back with a solid track record and a shared passion for the great outdoors. Consider a local firm that gives so much back to our community. 

Thank you  HeartStone Advisors for being an Adopt-A-Trail Sponsor!

Glacier Cyclery has been supporting the Whitefish Trail since the beginning. They realize that our local trail system brings value to our community and want to give back to a worthwhile project. Stop by the shop in February to get 25% off bike tune ups. Don't wait until spring when you actually want to ride your bike!
 
Thank you Glacier Cyclery for being a WT Founding Sponsor!